Balance and Gait Disorders
Is your balance not quite what it used to be? Do you find yourself reaching out for walls, railings, or other objects to balance yourself? Have you noticed pain in your hips, knees, or other joints that make it difficult for you to walk? These are all indications of balance and gait disorders.
There are many reasons why this kind of condition may occur, and it can cause both physical and mental limitations to your daily life. Underlying musculoskeletal and neurological disorders can cause or aggravate a balance or gait problem. Fortunately, physical therapy in Mililani and Kailua can help.
At Moon Physical Therapy, we can manage your symptoms and in many cases, we can help relieve your condition altogether. To find out more about how our balance and gait disorders services can benefit you, contact our Mililani and Kailua physical therapy office today.
Physical therapy for balance and gait disorders
Physical therapy is the best option for balance and gait disorders. Our Mililani and Kailua physical therapists can provide you with the best techniques for improving your balance and ability to walk.
When you arrive for your initial appointment, our physical therapist will conduct a comprehensive physical evaluation to examine your balance, gait, stance, medical history, and symptoms, before creating a personalized treatment plan made for your specific needs.
This treatment plan may include:
Warm water rehabilitation allows you to practice walking with greater ease and less anxiety. When you are walking in the water, especially on our underwater treadmill, you have the ability to float and it’s easier to increase the stride of your gait which mimics a natural gait pattern on land. The warmth of the water helps to keep muscles relaxed and allows you to take bigger steps, which inturn improves flexibility of the joints, spine, knees, hips without pain or difficulty. The support of the water allows you to perform balance training exercises, such as single limb standing or directional changes without the fear of falling.
Stretching will help improve your flexibility and your range of motion. This will give you more control and quicker reactions with your movements, also reducing your risk of injury. It will also keep your muscles from becoming too tight and stiff.
Your evaluation will help determine what problem areas in your body may need help. Our physical therapist will provide you with strengthening exercises that will build up your muscles, thus making it much easier for you to move around and reduce your risk of injury.
Gait retraining exercises
Sometimes, abnormalities in gait can be corrected through “retraining” where you learn proper techniques.
This physical therapy treatment works to improve your vision, nerves, muscles, and the vestibular system as a whole, in order to maintain a steady balance. If you are suffering from BPPV, our Mililani and Kailua physical therapists will provide you with specific exercises that will move the calcium debris to the correct parts of your ear.
What caused my balance/gait disorder?
There can be many causes of balance and gait disorders, as they can develop from many different underlying conditions.
For balance disorders, many are related to issues in the vestibular system, which is a delicate collection of fluid-filled chambers and sensory nerves, located in the inner ear, and thousands of nerve receptors in the joints throughout your body. The vestibular system is responsible for your sense of position, also known as “proprioception.”
Some common vestibular conditions resulting in balance disorders include:
Injury or ailment
Even if your brain and nervous system are working in harmony with one another, a sudden injury, disease, or other ailment causing muscle weakness can interfere with your balance and make it difficult to keep yourself upright.
This may include Parkinson’s disease, brain injury, or stroke. Anything that affects your neurological system can also impact your balance.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
This occurs when calcium debris breaks off in the inner ear, causing issues with balance.
Understanding the difference between balance and gait disorders
Balance and gait disorders belong to a family of functional problems that interfere with your positional awareness, your normal means of walking or running, and your ability to keep yourself upright.
Balance and gait disorders are closely related, but they do have some distinct differences. Balance disorders are both physical and mental, as your brain may think you are moving, even when you are not.
Changes to your joint strength, mobility, and ability to sense where your joints are in space (proprioception), all have physical consequences on your balance.
Gait disorders can cause abnormal movements in the way you walk and run, and these can become exaggerated with age. According to Move Forward Physical Therapy, gait disorders account for 17 percent of senior falls.
Get started today with Moon Physical Therapy
Are you looking to get back on your feet? Contact Moon Physical Therapy today at Mililani & Kailua, HI! We’ll help you find the balance you’re looking for after just a few sessions.